The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Roots of the Mountains is a tale of the Middle Ages. The members of Burgdale, a complacent, peaceful land, learn that vicious Asiatic invaders known as the Dusky Horde are planning to attack them, enslave the men, and rape the women. The Burgdalers comprise three populations: the powerful residents of Burgstead, who live communally in six kinship groups; the independent Dalesmen, who are mainly shepherds; and the Woodlanders, a smaller and decidedly weaker group. They are led to war by Face-of-God, the eldest son of the most powerful family in Burgdale.

Face-of-God learns of this danger from Sun-Beam, the beautiful representative of the Sons of the Wolf, who a decade before were dispossessed from their ancient lands in nearby Silverdale. Now Sun-Beam and her brother, Folk-might, seek to join forces with the Burgdalers and destroy the Dusky Horde, thus preserving both Burgdale and the remnant of their own people, who are living in the Shadowy Vale. Face-of-God supports Folk-might when the latter comes to Burgstead to announce the impending invasion, and the Dalesmen agree to send a reconnaissance expedition toward Silverdale. The expedition brings back several dozen runaways, who tell the assembled residents of Burgdale some of the horrors that have befallen their once-free people.

The Thing-Mote, or assembly, of the Dale decides that the Dusky Horde must be attacked on its own ground before it has a chance to gather for battle...

(The entire section is 544 words.)